Rivals Essay

959 Words4 Pages
Like typical comedy of manners, “The Rivals” has a complicated plot. There are three love-affairs in it – the Absolute-Lydia love-affair, the Faulkland-Julia love-affair, and the Mrs. Malaprop-Sir Lucius love-affair. All these love-affairs have a parallel development, so that the interest keeps shifting from one love-affair to the other quite rapidly. Again, like a typical comedy of manner, “The Rivals” abounds in wit. We have the wit of Captain Absolute, the wit of Sir Anthony, the wit of even Sir Lucius and Acres who are otherwise the targets of the play’s satire. “The Rivals” is an amusing satire on the fashionable upper-class of Sheridan's time. The scene of this play is set in Bath. In the second half of the eighteenth century, Bath was a famous centre of fashionable life. The manner in which Fag dwells upon this life is quite amusing. The Faulkland-Julia love-affair is undoubtedly a parody of the sentimental comedy of the eighteenth century. Julia is portrayed as an excessively sentimental girl, while Faulkland is portrayed as the most whimsical and eccentric lover. Faulkland greatly amuses us by his account of the anxieties that fill his mind regarding Julia. Every hour he is alarmed on Julia’s account. If it rains, if the wind is sharp, he feels afraid. All this is very funny. Similarly, Faulkland’s feeling upset on hearing about the gay life that Julia has been leading also amuses us. Julia’s over-sentimentality in idealizing her lover and repeatedly forgiving his faults and silly suspicions is also funny. The portrayal of Lydia is a satire on the romantic notions which young, fashionable girls of upper-class families of the time entertained. She is fond of reading romantic novels and stories. Fed on such stories, she does not want a conventional and routine kind of wedding. When Captain Absolute’s real identity is revealed to Lydia, she feels
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